Started another beautiful day with a long walk during which I explored Uptown winding my way along Exposition, Laurel, Constance and Camp streets. I gave a lot of thought to our stalled process as I took in the beautiful homes, trees and flowers. I resolved to step back from writing and try to guide the story more as a producer. I meditated on that role to make sure I was considering it as a proactive rather than reactive move. We have had many clashes over the overall tone of the story. The original draft read as fairly dark, which I was attracted to and developed further in my page one rewrite. Part of the motive of coming down here was the resistance of my partner to the rewrite's themes which I thought were an elaboration of those in the original. Our phone conferences and emails got bogged down with discussions of minutiae as did the first two days down here. It was really getting me down. I had the sinking feeling that this was not meant to be at some point on Monday afternoon. I pressed on in spite of my doubts until late that night, but when I woke up yesterday I knew I couldn't go forth in the same manner.
I returned from my walk, stopping to stretch on the front porch. Charlie was playing his grand piano inside and I enjoyed listening to him as I stretched. The small measure of animosity that was a product of not getting what I wanted from the relationship vanished. I ate a light breakfast before sitting down across from Charlie to work. I didn't start with a declaration of my retreat from a co-writing arrangement, but with some questions. Then we watched Hustle & Flow. Followed by some discussion of theme and structure of H&F and our script over Fried Green Tomato- dressed Shrimp Po Boys on Magazine Street. We continued our talk on a tour of the less salubrious streets of Uptown and a stop to pick up some Gumbo for dinner.
I did lower the boom of my withdrawal once we got back to the house. I did so kindly and with extreme measure. It wasn't a ploy to achieve anything other than leverage on the process of getting this script ready to produce. However it had the effect of making clear that in order to work together effectively, especially long distance, that things had to change and that Charlie was willing to do what it took to preserve a co-writing relationship. Which isn't to say he was willing to abandon his insistence on a much lighter tone. Through our discussions I realized that his unwavering made all too clear in our discussions was not clear in his original draft or in the films he had mentioned in association with the story. It's kind of like being married -- the relationship is based on a fundamental attraction and common goal, but you often find out, many times too late, that you weren't really talking about the same thing. "Oh, that's what you meant."
As we worked, I continued to approach things as a co-writer. But I felt differently. I had let go of things. I could feel it. It helped move things along.
The only problem is that I woke up today fairly certain that the strides we made last night were a reconciliation toward a lighter tone rather than progress toward finding a solid structure on which to hang this story.
Back to the poetics board.
It's a demanding process. But it has its rewards. Last night's were a sunset walk in the park to see hundreds of egrets, ibises and other fowl nesting in the trees and the pond and a double serving of delicious Gumbo for dinner.
Things could be worse.